L I E) RARY
U N 1 VLRSITY
INSTITUTE OF LABOR AND
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS BULLETIN
I. R. PUBLICATIONS SERIES A, VOL. 2, SPECIAL, MARCH 1948
This Bulletin covers a (question of considerable legislative, ad-
ministrative, and judicial interest. Because of the use of an appro-
priation rider for defining- agricultural employees, the cjuestion is
destined for further consideratic:)n bv the Congress. The analysis
by Dr. Fred W'itne}- presented here includes a historical surve}' of
the Cjuestion and an analysis of how it relates to the Labor Manage-
ment Relations Act, 1947.
Because the c[uestion is a technical one and still rests on ad-
ministrative and judicial decisions, references to the major sources
are included. Readers interested in analyzing the technical aspects
of this question will find the references comprehensive. For those
with a more general interest. Dr. Witney's discussion provides a
stimulating review. — Phillips Bradley
Additional copies of this Bulletin are available. A charge of five cents
per copy will be made, except that the first 10 copies will be furnished
free of charge to individuals and groups in Illinois. Also available are
copies of these other Institute Bulletins:
Employment Act of 1946 Collective Barsainins: by Foremen
Seniority and Job Security Municipal Mediation Plans
Plant-Protection Employees Under Current Federal Labor Legislation
Phillips Bradley Milton Berber
Director Coordinator of Research
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS BULLETIN
Published every five days by the University of Illinois. Entered as second-class matter at
the post office at Urbana, Illinois, under the Act of August 24, 1"512. Office of Publication,
358 Administration Building, Urbana, Illinois. Accejitance for mailing at the special rate
of postage provided for in Section 1103, Act of October 3, 1*U7, authorized July 31, 1918.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS UNDER NATIONAL
LABOR RELATIONS LAWS
By Fred Witney, Ph.D.
Department of Economics, Indiana l'niversit\'
In June. 1935. when passage of the National Labor Relations
Act was being- debated, some nieni!)ers of Congress contended that
agricultural laborers, as well as industrial employees should receive
le^gal protection of their right to organize and bargain collectively/
When the Act was finally passed, however, these workers were
excluded from the coverage of the law." Under its provisions, an
"employee" for purposes of the Act, did not include "any individual
employed as an agricultural laborer." The Labor-Management Rela-
tions Act, 1947 (Taft-Hartley Law), which supplants the National
Labor Relations Act. also excltides these workers from its terms. ^
Congress apparently believed that the organization of farm
workers was not of national concern. Since the numl)er of these
workers is comparatively small, labor disputes resulting from or-
ganization efforts of farm employees would not materially burden
interstate commerce, according to this viewpoint. One representa-
tive in Congress who reflected this position said:
The agricultural worker is not a problem in some of the states. In
some of the states they [farmers] have practically no employees in the gen-
erally accepted sense of the term. In some states of the Union, especially in
the Middle West, the farmers seldom employ more than one or two
employees, and then for only seasonal employment.'*
A Circuit Court of Appeals attempting to determine why agri-
ctdtural laborers were excluded from the National Labor Relations
Act also recognized this point. The Court declared, "There never
would be a great number suffering under the difficulty of nego-
tiating with the actual employer and there would be no need for
collective bargaining and conditions leading to strikes would not
obtain."' On the other hand, this Court held that it was not the
intent of Congress to include within the agricultural classification
workers employed in commercial enterprises which pack, can, or
otherwise process farm products.
4 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
WHO ARE AGRICULTURAL LABORERS?
When Congress excluded agricultural employees from the Na-
tional Lahor Relations Act in 1935 and the Labor Management
Relations Act in 1947 it failed to define the meaning of the term,
"agricultural employee." This is not the case in the Social Security
Act*^ or in the Fair Labor Standards Act (Wage-Hour Law)'
which also exclude agricultural employees from their coverage.
Congress established legislative standards indicating the scope of the
agricultural classification for purposes of these acts.
Thus Section 209 of the Social Security Act contains a detailed
definition of agricultural labor. Some of the main points of the
The term "agricultural labor" includes all service performed
(1) on a farm, in the employ of any person, in connection with
cultivating- the soil, or in connection with raising or harvesting
any agricultural or horticultural commodity including the rais-
ing, shearing, feeding, caring for, training, and management
of livestock, bees, poultry, and fur-bearing animals and wild
(4) in handling, planting, drying, packing, packaging, processing,
freezing, grading, storing, or delivering to storage or to market
or to a carrier for transportation to market, any agricultural
or horticultural commodity. . . .
The provisions of this paragraph shall not be deemed to
be applicable with respect to service performed in connection
with commercial canning or commercial freezing.
Section 3(f) of the Fair Labor Standards Act defines agricul-
ture as follows:
'Agriculture" includes farming in all its branches and among other
things includes the cultivation and tillage of the soil, dairying, the produc-
tion, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural or horticul-
tural commodities . . . the raising of livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals or
poultry, and any practices (including any forestry or lumbering operations)
performed by a farmer or on a farm as an incident to or in conjunction
with such farming operations, including preparation for market, delivery to
storage or to market or to carriers for transportation to market.
Congress did not define "agricultural employee" in the National
Labor Relations Act and the Labor Manasfement Relations Act.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS O
The task of interpretiiii^ the nature and extent of the a^ricidtural
exclusion is left to the National Labor Relations I>oard and the
courts. The power of the X.L.R.lx to construe the meaning of agri-
cultm-al employment was not restricted until Jul)', 1^)46. approxi-
mately 11 ^•ears after the i)assage of the National Labor Relations
Act. At that time Congress passed legislation which made the defini-
tion of agricultural workers as contained in the b^air Labor Stand-
ards Act applicable to the National Labor Relations Act.*^
The main purpose of this bulletin is to examine the meaning
and scope of the agricultural exemption for purposes of the Labor
Management Relations Act. What employees are embraced within
the exclusion ? Are employees of a farm cooperative agricultural
workers? May workers who aid in the production of agricultural
and horticultural products in a greenhouse expect protection from
the N.L.R.B.? What tests does the N.L.R.B. employ to determine
whether a particular worker performs agricultural duties?
The N.L.R.B. in its 12 vears of operations has established many
precedents in attempting to define the agricultural exemi)tion. A
careful examination of these precedents seems worth while since
rulings handed down by the N.L.R.B. under the National Labor
Relations Act apply to the Labor Management Relations Act as
long as they do not conflict with the new labor law.* Attention must
also be directed to court decisions and to efforts of Congress to
define the meaning of agricultural employment.
It is important to examine carefully the agricultiu'al exclusion
under the Labor Management Relations Act because: (1) workers
])erforming agricultural duties may not be included in a bargaining
unit certified as appropriate for purposes of collective bargaining;
(2) employers have no legal obligation to bargain collectively with
labor unions composed of agricultural laborers; (3) a farm worker
may be discharged for union activities, and his reinstatement will
not be ordered by the N.L.R.B. (4) labor organizations composed
of farm workers are not affected by the restrictions which the new
law placed on labor organizations.
* Policies established by the N.L.R.B. under the National Labor Relations
Act remain in force unless they are inconsistent with the Labor Manatj;cment Rela-
tions Act. It has already been indicated that both laws treat agricultural laborers
in essentially the same fashion.
6 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
CONGRESS DEFINES AGRICULTURAL
Some members of Congress have from time to time sponsored
legislation designed to clarify the meaning of the term ''agricultural
employment" under the National Labor Relations Act. In 1939 one
proposal was introduced to define the phrase to include workers who
pack and can as well as those who produce farm commodities.^
Under this proposal, workers in commercial packing and canning
establishments could expect no legal protection of their right to
self-organize and bargain collectively. An attempt to exclude agri-
cultural-product processing workers from the National Labor Rela-
tions Act was made by the House of Representatives on February
7, 1946 when it passed its version of the so-called Case Bill.^°
Congress gave further attention to the definition of agricultural
workers when the Labor Management Relations Act was being con-
sidered. Again the House attempted to deny workers of packing
houses, canneries, and similar food processing establishments legal
protection of their right to organize." These efforts failed, however,
and canning and packing house workers remain subject to the
jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B.
Limitation on N.L.R.B. Appropriation
In 1946 employees of packing houses and farm-product process-
ing enterprises were also threatened with the loss of legal protec-
tion of their right to organize and bargain collectively. At that time,
the House of Representatives defined agricultural labor for purposes
of the National Labor Relations Act in the same manner as the
term is defined in the Social Securitv Act.^^
Under the Social Security Act definition, agricidtural labor in-
cludes services performed (1) by an employee in connection with
the processing of articles from materials which were produced on
a farm, also (2) the packing ... of these articles. When this
definition was being debated in Congress, the N.L.R.B. cjuickly
pointed out that it "would affect packing-shed and processing em-
ployees."^^ On the other hand, the term agricultural emplovment
contained in the Social Security Act does not apply to workers
employed in commercial canning plants.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS '
The House took action by passinj^ a rider to the N.L.R.B. Ap-
propriation Act, 1947. The rider prohibited the Board from spend-
ing anv of its funds in cases involving workers who are defined as
agricnhural employees in the Social Security Act. The appropriation
for the N.L.R.B. was contained in a bill appropriating funds for
several other federal agencies and the House expected the Senate to
agree to the N.L.R.B. rider in order not to delay the allocation of
funds for the other agencies.
Position of the Senate
The Senate, however, refused to approve the House-sponsored
rider. Some members of the Senate pointed out that it would de-
prive "many hundreds of thousands of packing-shed workers" of
legal protection of their right to collective bargaining." Since
workers engaged in packing citrus fruit, lettuce, or other agri-
cultural products could not use procedures of the National Labor
Relations Act, they might turn to the strike when their right to
bargain collectively was denied, it was argued in the Senate.^ '
Senator Morse, of Oregon, who had been a public member of
the National War Labor Board, was particularly concerned with
possible effects of the rider. He pointed out that the National War
Labor Board had been forbidden to use its funds to settle disputes
involving "agricultural laborers" as that term is defined in the
Social Security Act. As a result of the limitation (known as the Lea
rider to the 1946 Appropriation Act of the War Labor Board) Mr.
A gvQRt many strikes occurred among the employees [of packing estab-
lishments] which never would have occurred had the National War Labor
Board been free to use its funds to send members of its staff into the
disputes which arose, to the end of settling them under the peaceful pro-
cedures of the War Labor Board. Being denied the peaceful procedures
of the War Labor Board for use in the settlement of their disputes, the
workers had no other course but to strike.'"
Mr. Robert La Follette, then Senator from Wisconsin, also was
fearful that the House-sponsored rider might result in serious
organizing strikes. He said:
When I was chairman of the so-called Civil Liberties Cc^mmittee wc
conducted investigations in California concerning [organizing] strikes in
some of the packing sheds. The record will shcnv that they were among the
8 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
most bitter and violent cases of that character on which the committee held
hearings. I believe that, from the standpoint of production of important
foodstuffs and their packing and distribution, if this Senate takes this action
[approval of the House-sponsored rider] it will be moving in the direction
of returning to the chaotic and bitter controversies which took place before
the employees had the protection of the National Labor Relations Act. . . ."
The Senate defeated a motion to approve the House-sponsored
rider and the matter was referred to a Senate-House conference
committee on July 12, 1946. This committee was unable to reach
an agreemeiit during the following week and the Senate was again
approached on the matter. Once more the Senate refused to agree
to the Social Security Act definition, and the dispute was again
referred to the conference committee.
Fair Labor Standards Act Definition Applied
On July 20, 1946, the conference committee finally worked out
a compromise which was acceptable to both houses of Congress.
Instead of accepting the Social Security Act definition of agricul-
tural labor, Congress passed legislation which made the definition
in the Fair Labor Standards Act applicable to the National Labor
Relations Act. Specifically, Congress provided that no funds appro-
l)riated to the N.L.R.B. coidd be used "to organize, or assist in or-
ganizing agrictiltural laborers, or used in connection with investi-
gations, hearings, directives, or orders concerning bargaining units
composed of agricultural laborers, as referred to in Section 2 (3)
of the Act of July 5, 1935 (49 Stat. 450) (National Labor Rela-
tions Act), and as defined in Section 3 (f ) of the Act of June 25,
1938 (52 Stat. 1060) (Fair Labor Standards Act)." Thus, the
appropriation rider device was used to implement this action. A
similar restriction is contained in the N.L.R.B. Appropriation Act
for the fiscal year 1948 (July 1, 1947-June 30, 1948). ''
As long as the appropriation rider method is used to make the
Fair Labor Standards Act definition applicable to the Labor Man-
agement Relations Act, the rider must be re-enacted vear after vear.
This would not be necessary if the substantive provisions of the
Act were amended to include this definition.
Before the Senate agreed to the Fair Labor Standards Act
definition, the possible effect of limiting the use of the N.L.R.B.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS "
funds was examined. Senator McCarren of Nevada, and chairman
of the Senate members of the congTessional conference committee,
pointed out that the Fair Laljor Standards Act definition did not
cover employees of packing houses or processing estaldishments. Mr.
McCarren said that "this provision confines itself to operations that
are actuallv on the farm."'" Perhaps this interpretation was based on
the fact that, imder the Fair Labor Standards Act definition, only
those practices incidental to farming which are performed by a
farmer or on a farm (italics supplied) may be considered agricul-
tural in character. Employees who perform operations in commer-
cial packing houses located ofif the farm therefore appear to retain
their rights to organize and bargain collectively under the protec-
tion of the N.L.R.B. However, in the case of the X.L.R.B. z'. John
M\ Campbell Ine. the Fifth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that
emplo}ees of a tomato packing house fall within the agricultural
exclusion even though the facility was removed from the farm and
located in town."*^
The attitude of the National Labor Relations Board probably
influenced the Senate to agree to the Fair Labor Standards Act
definition. The Board was consulted before the Senate approved the
measure. The Board said that though the definition "might recpiire
few minor changes in . . . present procedure and definition . . .
they woidd be very minor.""' In addition, the Board felt it "could
get along iinder it very well." In contrast the Board pointed out
that the definition of agricultural employment contained in the
Social Security Act would affect sizable groups of employees if it
Congress also recognized that the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B.
woidd not be greatly reduced by the Fair Labor Standards Act
definition, and onlv a relativelv small number of workers would
lose benefits afforded by the National Labor Relations Act. This
view was expressed by Senator Ball of Minnesota who was a
member of the conference committee which considered the choice
histcad of using the definition of "agricultural laborer" contained in
the Social Security Act. a very broad one, covering a great many processing
employees, packing shed workers, and so forth, this change substitutes the
definition "agriculture" contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act which
is a much narrower definition."
10 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
Significance of the Rider
The amendment to the N.L.R.B. Appropriation Act codifies a
definition of agricultural laborers which must receive consideration
whenever the N.L.R.B. decides whether a i)articular employee is
engaged in agriculture. Presumably the Board will be influenced, if
not bound, in these decisions by construction placed on the definition
by the Administrator of the Fair Labor Standards Act. It appears
that any court decision dealing with the meaning of the Fair Labor
Standards Act definition for purposes of that act would be equally
binding on the N.L.R.B. in determining the scope of the definition
for cases arising imder the Labor jManagement Act.
A situation has already occurred in which a court's decision
conflicts with an interpretation of the N.L.R.B. In 1940 the Board
ruled that employees who fire the boilers of a commercial green-
house were not engaged in agriculture. Accordingly these workers
were afforded the full benefits of the National Labor Relations
Act.^^ In contrast a federal district court on July 12, 1946, held that
firemen employed in a commercial greenhoLise perform agricLiltLiral
duties and are therefore exempt from the coverage of the Fair
Labor Standards Act."^ On the basis of this court decision it would
seem that these employees may no longer expect legal protection of
their right to bargain collectively.
On the other hand, the rider will be of little importance where
no conflict of interpretation exists between the N.L.R.B., the Ad-
ministrator of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the courts.
Actually these three units have been in agreement on many occa-
sions on the scope of the agricultural classification. For example,
even before the rider was attached to the N.L.R.B. Appropriation
Act, employees performing duties on farm nurseries were denied
legal protection of their right to collective bargaining.^^ These
workers likewise have been excluded from the coverage of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.^''
A similarity of these decisions arises from interpretations of
agricultural employment handed down by the N.L.R.B. before
enactment of the rider and the nature of the definition of agricLil-
tural laborer contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Thus this
definition states in part:
Agriculture includes farming- in all its branches and among other things
includes the cultivation and tillage of the soil, dairying, the production,
cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural commodities . . .
the raising of livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals or poultry. . . .
Decisions of the N.L.R.B. reflect this view of ai^rictilture. The
Board has stated several times that "the term 'agricukural lahorer,'
as commonlv tmderstood, refers to a person employed on a farm in
the cultivation of the soil, including- the harvesting of the crops and
the rearing and management of li\estock."'"'
The Fair Labor Standards Act definition further provides that
agricultural duties include those tasks performed "by a farmer or
on a farm as an incident (italics supplied) to or in conjunction
with such farming operations, including preparation for market,
deli\"erv to storage or to market, or to carriers for transportation
to market." In similar fashion the N.L.R.B. recognized, even before
the limitation was placed on the use of its funds, that "the agri-
cidtural character of the work does not necessarily terminate with
the severance of the crop from the tree or ground. "^^ Instead the
Board has held that workers engaged in processing, packing, pack-
aging, transporting or marketing a farm crop, when done on a farm
as "a;; incident to ordinary farming operations"-^ (italics supplied),
fall within the agricultural classification. Thus on one occasion the
Board found that employees of a sugar plantation who load sugar
on trucks into railway cars for transportation to a sugar mill are
agricultural workers.'" Further effects of the rider to the N.L.R.B.
Appropriation Act will be indicated in the subsequent investigation
of the meaning and scope of the agricultural labor exemption con-
tained in the Labor Management Relations Act.*
Economic development has resulted in the formation of some
enterprises which are both agricultural and commercial in character.
* Because tlie rider specifics that tlie definition of agricultural lal)or of Section
3 (f) of the Fair Labor Standards Act is to apply to the Labor Management Rela-
tions Act, Section 13 (a) (10) is probably not applicable. Section 13 (a) (10)
exempts from the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act "any individual
employed within the area of production (as defined by the Administrator), engaged
in handling, packaging, storing, ginning, compressing, pasteurizing, drying, pre-
paring in their raw or natural state, or canning of agricultural or horticultural
commodities for market, or in making cheese or butter or other dairy products."
Individuals "emploj'ed in agriculture" are separately exempted by Section 13
u: OF JLC lib:
I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
These establishments, though producing farm products, use a great
deal of modern machinery, employ a comparati\'ely large number of
workers, and ordinarily add great value to farm products which
they process. In addition they are operated as large scale business
organizations, using many of the methods of production commonly
identified with the modern mass-production industrial factory. For
example, sugar plantations, particularly those located in Hawaii and
Puerto Rico, are highly mechanized and are organized as large-
scale business establishments. Chick raising, commonly regarded as
a farming pursuit, has been greatly affected by the introduction of
the commercial incubator. The modern hatchery resembles in many
ways the industrial factory. Alodern technology has also provided
the basis for the greenhouse in which agriculture and horticulture
products are produced under artificial conditions.
The question thus arises : Are all these employees engaged in
agricultural pursuits and hence deprived of legal protection of their
bargaining rights? In dealing with this problem, the N.L.R.B. has
given much weight to the character of the work performed. On one
occasion the Board declared that the exclusion of employees from its
jurisdiction depends on "the essential character of the work per-
formed. . . ."^^ In other words, employees who perform duties
which are incidental to the fanning operations of these agricultural-
commercial establishments are denied legal protection of their right
to self-organization and collective bargaining. But employees whose
tasks are related to the coiiniicrcial activities of these enterprises
have the protection and responsibilities of the Labor Management
In January, 1945, a case arose which in\olved practically the
entire sugar industry of Hawaii.'^" It was pointed out that the mod-
ern Hawaiian sugar plantation is a corporation owning thousands
of acres, employing hundreds of persons, with sales and purchases
amounting to more than one million dollars per vear. Located on the
plantations are railroads used to transport the sugar cane from the
fields to the mills, irrigation systems, repair shops, and the sugar
mills. The modern Hawaiian sugar plantation has been described
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS 13
as a "complex, highly mechanized, care full}' organized . . . large
scale business enterprise."
In deciding the case, the National Labor Relations iJoard held
that those engaged in the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of the
sugar cane are agricultural employees and hence excluded from the
coverage of the National Relations Act. On the other hand,
emplovees who operate the railroads, work in the sugar processing
mills, and who repair machinery of the i)lantation were found to be
subject to the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B. Employees of irrigation
companies owned by sugar plantations are likewise protected in
their organizational activities. ^^'^ The fact that these workers handle
the water which is used on the plantations does not place them
within the agricultural employment category.
Board action established certain principles in these cases. Work-
ers who perform agricultural duties on large farms or plantations,
using modern large-scale methods of production, are excluded from
the scope of the Labor Management Relations Act in the same
manner as are workers who execute similar tasks on small farms.
Size of the enterprise alone does not determine whether or not a
given worker will be treated as an agricultural employee. In addi-
tion, all workers on a plantation or on a farm will not on the basis
of this consideration alone be denied legal protection of their right
to self-organization and collective bargaining. Instead the N.L.R.B.
will give consideration to the character of the work. The test is
whether the employee is engaged in activities which are commercial
or agricultural in nature. Finally, the fact that a single employer
may own a plantation as well as mills, repair shops or transporta-
tion facilities located on the enterprise does not necessarily make
milling, repairing, or transporting activities agricultural in
Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to employees of
sugar plantations has also been established. A Circuit Court of
Appeals held that employees who work in sugar processing mills,
operate plantation railroads, and who repair and maintain trans-
portation and mill facilities are not employed in agriculture.'"* Only
those workers who plant, culti\"ate, or harvest sugar cane were con-
sidered within the agricultural category and hence excluded from
coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act. As in the case which
14 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
involved the National Labor Relations Act, the same management
owned and controlled the plantation, the mill, the repair shops, and
the transportation facilities. The court refused to give much weight
to this feature in reaching its decision. It stated:
The mere fact that in this case the owners of the farm are also owners
of the mills and the transportation facilities does not make transportation
an incident to farming. The issue, therefore, is not whether the same own-
ers manage and control the mill, the farms, and the transportation system,
but rather whether transportation is incident to milling, an operation
specifically within the purview of the [Fair Labor Standards] Act.^"
Li the light of this court decision, the rider to the N.L.R.B. Appro-
priation Act is of little importance in cases involving sugar planta-
tions. Workers who perform commercial duties on a plantation will
continue to receive protection from the N.L.R.B.
Employees of nurseries which are engaged in the production,
sale, and distribution of fruit trees, berries, and vegetables are
exempt from provisions of the Labor Management Relations Act.^*^
Even though it was conceded that the conduct of the modern
nursery includes both commercial and agricultural operations, the
Board has held that the employees of these enterprises are engaged
in agricultural employment. Li the case of a large Missouri nursery,
the N.L.R.B. remarked, that the employees of the enterprise per-
form duties "customarily regarded as agriculture."
Specifically, employees of the Missouri nursery unload and store
young fruit trees in the company's packing houses, cut scions from
the trees growing in the nursery, graft the scions on to the seed-
lings in the company's grafting rooms, and pack and ship the
seedlings. In the packing season the workers fill and check custom-
ers' orders and label, bimdle, pack and ship the orders.
The N.L.R.B. granted that grafting and other work closely
related to the propagation of fruit trees is "performed on a large
scale and in a scientific manner." In the judgment of the Board,
however, duties performed in operating niu'series are "familiar
agricultural pursuits."'^' As a result workers of nurseries may not
expect legal protection of their right to collective bargaining.
Employees of nurseries have also been excluded from coverage
of the Fair Labor Standards Act.** For the purposes of this Act,
the term "employed in agriculture" includes employees of nurseries
(1) sowing- seeds and otherwise propagating- fruit, nuts, vegetables, and
ornamental plants or trees, shrubs, vines and flowers.
(2) planting, cultivating, watering, spraying, fertilizing, pruning of
(3) handling, wrapping and packaging of products grcjwn l)y a nursery.*''
Since the N.L.R.B. has already denied employees of nurseries legal
protection of their bargaining rights, the rider to the N.L.R.B.
Appropriation Act and this interpretation of the Fair Labor
Standards definition of agricultural employment will cause no
change in the policy of the Board.
The use of the modern incubator has greatly affected the
method of chick production. }>Iany farmers now sell eggs to the
modern hatchery instead of hatching the eggs on their own farms.
In 1941 a hatchery in Missouri purchased from farmers eggs valued
at about $169,497.*" During the same year, the company sold baby
chicks worth approximately S419.410. Approximately 4.500.000
chicks were incubated in the hatch.ery during that year.
Employees who worked in the hatchery performed duties which
included unloading eggs from trucks owned and operated by the
company; placing the eggs in trays and inserting the trays into incu-
bators; taking the hatched chicks out of the incubator; grading the
chicks and boxing and loading them into trucks for transportation
to market. In determining whether these employees fell within the
agricultural classification, the X.L.R.B. was persuaded by the fact
that their operations "are similar to the operations performed by the
farmer."*^ Accordingly the Board ruled that hatchery employees do
not fall within the limits of its jurisdiction.
The Board recognized that the commercial hatchery in the case
was large, used large-scale production methods, had scientific and
specialized operations, and a large tcjtal value of the product. These
features of the enterprise did not. however, sway the I'oard to grant
16 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
legal protection to the hatchery employees. This case again illus-
trated the principle that all workers engaged in the production of
farm commodities produced under large scale methods are not, on
the basis of this consideration alone, protected in their organiza-
tional activities. If their duties are deemed agricultural in character,
they are exckided from the terms of the Labor Management
Hatchery workers have also been denied the benefits of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.*" Since the administrator of that act held that
operations performed in a commercial hatchery are agricultural in
character, employees engaging in duties within these establishments
have been designated as agricultural employees. This ruling was
upheld by the Circuit Court of Appeals at Kansas City.*'^ For this
reason the rider to the N.L.R.B. Appropriation Act is of little im-
portance in cases involving hatcheries. The N.L.R.B. and the ad-
ministrator of the Fair Labor Standards Act have reached similar
conclusions on the agricultural status of hatchery workers.
The growing of agricultural and horticultural products in green-
houses raises the problem: Are employees performing duties in
greenhouses within the agricultin^al classification ? Planting, culti-
vating, and harvesting operations appear as vital to the greenhouse
method of producing agricultural and horticultural stock as they
are to the raising of products on a farm where natural conditions
prevail. The N.L.R.B. has consistently held that employees engaged
in planting, cultivating, and harvesting operations are agricultural
workers and are therefore excluded from the scope of its jurisdic-
tion. Does the growing of farm products in greenhouses alter the
agricultural status of the employees performing these duties?
Difi^erent conclusions were reached by the N.L.R.B. and the
administrator of the Fair Labor Standards Act on this problem.
In 1940. the Board held that greenhouse employees were not agri-
cultural workers and were therefore entitled to full protection of
the National Labor Relations Act."** This decision was apparently
influenced by the artificial nature of greenhouse production. On
this score the N.L.R.B. stated that the duties of greenhouse em-
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS 17
ployees are not performed on a farm, nor are their services incident
to farmings operations. Instead their work, according to the Board,
was industrial in character, for "planting, care, and growing of
plants and flowers ha\e been removed from the farm and from the
natural conditions which there obtain, and are carried on under arti-
ficial conditions and in a specialized process."'*''
In another case in 1041 the I)oard held that em[)l()\ees perform-
ing operations in greenhouses where mushrooms are produced are
entitled to the protection of the National Labor Relations Act.'*"
Again the Board noted the artificial conditions which prevail in
greenhouse operations. It declared that mushroom growing under
artificial conditions does not depend upon "climate, temperature,
rainfall, or other conditions which affect the growing of crops under
ordinary circumstances."'*' Hence, employees performing duties in
connection with the raising of mushrooms in greenhouses perform
tasks which are not agricultural but industrial in character.
A different position has been taken by the administrator of the
Fair Labor Standards Act. In August, 1939, the administrator ruled
that employees engaged in the production of mushrooms, flowers,
or seeds under greenhouse conditions are excluded from the pro-
visions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.*^ As noted before, a
federal district court implemented this ruling in 1946.*'' The court
dealt with application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to employees
who fired boilers in a greenhouse producing cut flowers. It was
recognized by the Court that greenhouse production which is
carried on "under glass with steam heat is of course far removed
from our normal conception of the growth of products by a farmer
on an ordinary farm." Nevertheless, the court held that firemen of
greenhouses are "agricultural laborers" within the meaning of the
Fair Labor Standards Act since, in its opinion, the language de-
fining agricultural employment in the .\ct "is broad enough to cover
this type of production."
Although only greenhouse firemen were involved in this district
court case, it may be expected that the administrator's riding which
excludes all greenhouse employees from the purview of the Fair
Labor Standards Act would be sustained by the courts. In fact, in
the case described above, the court held that "we are l)ound to give
weight to the interpretation of the administrator." It a])pears then
18 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
that greenhouse employees may not expect further protection from
the N.L.R.B. in their organizational activities. The Board, now
bound by the Fair Labor Standards Act definition of agricultural
emplovment, must apparently decline jurisdiction of additional
cases involving greenhouse employees.
Dairy Ranch Bottlers
Some employers who own large dairy ranches possess the facili-
ties for bottling the milk produced on the ranch. For example, one
corporation located in Hawaii owns a dairy ranch of about 2,000
acres. ^° Located on the ranch are corrals, warehouses, and the main
dairy plant. The cows are milked and the milk bottled in the same
building. Employees who perform the bottling operations run the
bottle washers, filling machine, and capping machine. In addition,
they place the milk in cold storage, wash pipe lines and bottling
machines, and check outgoing and returned unsold milk.
In determining the status of the employees engaged in the
bottling process under the National Labor Relations Act, the
N.L.R.B. held that the bottling operations are related to the com-
mercial activities of the ranch rather than to its agricultural pur-
suits. The bottlers were therefore afforded legal protection of their
bargaining rights. The Board recognized that the bottlers handled
a product produced on the ranch, but ruled that this fact alone did
not place the employees beyond its jurisdiction. Instead the Board
restated the principle that the character of the work performed by
an employee is a controlling consideration in determining his agri-
cultural status. Thus if he executes commercial duties, a worker is
covered by the Labor Management Relations Act even though he
may be engaged in handling products grown on a farm, plantation,
It appears that bottlers are also covered by the Fair Labor
Standards Act. In 1939 the administrator of that Act held that
employees engaged in "the bottling of milk, the capping of bottles,
and the transportation of milk" are not exempt from the coverage
of the Fair Labor Standards Act." Only when these activities are
so closely associated to the pasteurization of milk, that "they can-
not be segregated therefrom" are bottling workers apparently ex-
empt from the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act.'" It
seems, tlierefore. that these workers are still entitled to lei^al pro-
tection of their collective barsi^ainini^ rij^dits. in spite of the fact that
the Fair Labor Standards Act definition of agricultural employment
now applies to the Labor-Management Relations Act.
PACKING, CANNING, AND SHIPPING
OF FARM PRODUCTS
Even before Congress enacted the rider to the X.L.R.1>. Ap-
propriation Act, the N.L.R.B. held that farming did not stop with
the mere harvesting of a crop. Practices which are incidental to
growing or harvesting farm ])roducts were considered agricultural,
and the employees performing these operations have been denied
the use of remedies of the Board.
Thus a group of employees engaged in the sorting and grading
of olives were regarded as agricultural employees.''^ Their company
grew and marketed raw olives. The firm owned approximately 480
acres of orchard land in California, producing L160,230 poimds
of olives in one year. The workers used a sorting belt and an auto-
matic grader. Specifically, they culled olives which were bruised,
rotten, misshapen, or otherwise not marketable. In addition, they
removed stems from the olives. After the grading and sorting
operations were completed, the workers who performed these duties
then loaded the barrels of graded olives onto trucks. In deciding that
these graders and sorters are agricultural workers, the N.L.R.B.
held that their operations are incidental to the growing of the olives
and not related to the commercial activities of the company.
On the other hand, employees of commercial packing, proc-
essing, or canning enterprises are not excluded from the jurisdiction
of the Board. In fact, it was this policy of the N.L.R.B. which stim-
ulated Congress to attempt to deny these workers legal protection
of their right to collective bargaining.
Packing and Shipping Operations
In a series of cases involving a group of lettuce i)acking and dis-
tributing companies in California and Arizona, the N.L.R.B. held
that lettuce packing workers em[)loyed by these establishments are
not agricultural workers.'* The fact that their duties arc not per-
20 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
formed on a farm, but in lettuce packing sheds located in towns,
next to railway sidings, and close to ice sheds prompted this de-
cision. The l)oard weighed heavily the consideration that several
of the packing companies grew only a portion of the lettuce which
they packed and shipped, and bought additional quantities of lettuce
from other growers.
lunplovees of comi)anies which purchase, pack, and distribute
onions are likewise subject to provisions of the Labor Management
Relations Act.^' In a case involving these workers it was shown that
their employers bought from growers quantities of onions which
were prepared for shipment by onion packing companies. Unlike
the olive graders, the employees of these onion packing establish-
ments were not employed by the farmers who grew the product,
but bv companies which bought the commodity from farmers. The
Board also noted that the work of the employees was not performed
on a farm.
A similar set of circumstances were present in a proceeding
involving oyster packers.^*' A Maryland oyster distributing company
purchased quantities of oysters from fishermen who brought the
product to the packing plant of the company. Employees of the
packing company first stored the oysters in bins, and later
"shucked," washed, and packed them into containers. The Board
pointed out that these employees' duties are performed in the pack-
ing plant and their services are devoted exclusively to the handling
of oysters being prepared for shipment to the market. The Board
ruled that these packing house workers perform duties which are
commercial rather than agricultural. Employees who pack and ship
carrots, broccoli, chicory, and other vegetables, as well as melons,
are likewise entitled to legal protection of their collective bargain-
Commercial packing house workers are also covered by the
Fair Labor Standards Act. The administrator of that law declared
that the agricultural exemption of the law "does not extend to em-
ployees of packing house owners who pack produce of other growers
as well as their own. LTnless packing is done on the farm on which
the commodities packed are raised, an independent contractor en-
gaged in packing would not appear to be entitled to benefit of agri-
cultural exemption."'^* Adoption of the Eair Labor Standards Act
definition of agricultural employment for purposes of the Labor
Management Relations Act does not therefore exclude packing
house workers from the protection and responsibilities of existing
federal labor relations law.
Court Cases on Packing and Processing
In the cases reviewed above most firms bought from growers
all, or a part, of the farm produce which they packed and dis-
tributed. A c|uestion thus arises about the status of workers in an
establishment which itself grows all of the farm products which it
packs and ships. In March, 1946, the National Labor Relations
Board, in the Campbell case, dealt with this problem. The proceed-
ing involved a Florida firm which grows tomatoes and operated a
packing plant in which are processed on/ A' the tomatoes grown on
its own farm.^" Evidence in the case showed that the packing plant
was not on the farm, but in a town, and that large-scale production
methods were used in the packing.
These facts prompted the Board to hold that employees in the
packing house were not agricultural workers, even though the same
management owns the farm and the packing house. According to
the X.L.R.B., the fact that the same employer operated both pack-
ing house and tomato farm "is rele^■ant but not controlling" in de-
termining the agricultural status of the packing house workers. Of
greater importance was the fact that the packing house oj)erations
were "removed from farm to town, and performed under factory
In January, 1947, the Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans
overruled this decision of the N.L.R.B. holding that the employees
of the packing house were agricultural laliorers and thus removed
from the protection of the National Labor Relations Act."^ The
court declared that packing and preparing agricultural products for
market is a necessary step in any agricultural operation. A packing
plant does not become commercial or industrial in character merely
because the enterprise is large and is organized along factory lines.
The fact that the plant was located in a town was apparently given
little weight b)- the court at New Orleans. The Circuit Court
stressed the point that the packing plant employees packed only
'those tomatoes grown on the farm of the Florida firm. It would
22 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
seem that the United States Supreme Court must eventuaUy decide
whether employees such as those in the Caniphcll case fall within
the agricultural classification.
On two other occasions the Supreme Court declined to review
cases dealing with the agricultural status of workers who pack and
process farm products. One of these cases affected workers pre-
paring the Idaho potato crop for market. The other concerned the
meat packing industry. In the Idaho Potato Growers case/'" the
facts indicated that produce men purchase and handle under contract
a large part of the Idaho potato crop. After the potatoes are dug,
they are taken to a place for sorting, washing, grading, and packing.
At times this readying for shipment is done in "cellars" on the farm,
and sometimes in the warehouses of the produce men. Employees
who perform these duties work as crews and are employed, not by
farmers in whose cellars they work, but by the produce men. More-
over, the crews work under supervisors designated by the dealers.
It was held by a Circuit Court of Appeals that the work done
by these workers is commercial and not agricultural. Much weight
was given to the fact that the employees were hired by the dealers
and worked under the supervision of foremen selected by the
produce men. Another major consideration was the fact that the
readying process may be performed either on the farm or in ware-
houses located off the farm. It w^as held that workers performing
the tasks in farm cellars are entitled to protection of the N.L.R.B.
in the same manner as those working in dealers' warehouses. It was
also noted that the work was not incidental to the planting, culti-
vating, or harvesting of the potato crop, but to its commercial
Somewhat similar facts were present in a lemon picking case.*^^
A California firm gained complete control of lemon crops through
contracts made with individual growers even before the lemons
were picked from the trees. When the lemons were ready to be
picked, the company sent crews of pickers to the growers' orchards.
The employees in the particular case were hired, paid and supervised
by the company and not by the farmers in whose fields they worked.
A labor organization which sought to bargain for the lemon pickers
argued that the employees were not agricultural workers because
their duties were more closely allied with commercial marketinii;-
than with the growing and cultivation of the lemon croj).
The Board, however, held that the lemon pickers were agricul-
tm\'il workers and exempt from its jurisdiction. The Board was
l)ersuaded by the fact that the essential character of the [)ickers'
work is agricultural. In contrast with employees read>'ing potatoes
for market, the tasks of the lemon pickers can be performed only on
the farm and not in warehouses olT the farm.
The proceeding which dealt with the meat packing industry was
the Tozn'ca case. A Circuit Court of Appeals held that employees
of a meat slaughtering and packing enterprise who fed and con-
ditioned cattle before the slaughter or sale of the animals are not
agricultural workers.'^'* The company in the case owned feed lots
adjacent to the packing house. Cattle were held in their pens for
30 davs to 6 months. They were then slaughtered or sold. The em-
ployees hauled and distributed feed by wagon or tractor to the
cattle, cleaned out the feed and water troughs, gathered up manure,
stacked hay, and repaired fences. It was recognized that the tasks
performed by these workers are essentially agricultural in nature,
but the employees were not regarded as farm laborers because their
work, according to the view of the court, was incidental to the com-
mercial activities of the company in its packing plant.
Approximately five years later the N.L.R.B. held in the Swift
case, that another group of employees who fed and conditioned
cattle owned by a meat slaughtering and packing establishment fell
within the agricultural classification.'"^ The facts in the S-a'ift case,
in contrast with the Tovrea matter, indicated that the feed lot of
the companv was geographically separated from the slaughtering
facilities, that the feed lot was operated as an independent project,
and that a separate pay roll was maintained for the feed lot workers.
These feed lot workers were not, in the opinion of the Board, per-
forming duties incidental to the commercial and industrial activities
of the company. They were therefore ruled to be agricultural
workers. It would thus appear that cattle feed lot workers employed
by a meat packing corporation are exempt from the Lal)or Manage-
ment Relations Act unless they perform their duties in pens located
immediately adjacent to the slaughtering facilities.
24 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
As noted, attempts have been made in Congress to exclude can-
nery workers from the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B. These efforts
failed, however, and workers employed in commercial canning
establishments are fully covered by existing federal labor relations
legislation. Where a farmer cans commodities which he himself
grows, however, employees engaged in such canning operations
perform work incidental to farming, according to the Administrator
of the Fair Labor Standards Act.*'*' Thus these workers are not sub-
ject to the protection and limitations of the Labor Management
Relations Act because the N.L.R.B. is now presumably bound by
interpretations handed down by the administrator.
Employers have not contended that all cannery workers fell
within the agricultural employment classification. Apparently em-
ployers, trade unions, and the N.L.R.B. have all recognized the in-
dustrial character of commercial canning. However, the Board has
decided many cases which involved workers engaged in the canning
of farm products. These proceedings frequentlv deal with the ap-
propriateness of bargaining units containing cannery employees.
For example, on one occasion a union representing employees of an
Illinois vegetable canning company desired a unit of all production
and maintenance workers.**' The company offered little objection
to this proposal, and the unit was found appropriate.
The N.L.R.B. also dealt with the appropriateness of bargain-
ing units of workers employed in salmon canneries located in
Alaska and along the Pacific northwest.* In one of these cases,
workers of salmon canning companies were regarded as employees
of the establishment even though their duties were seasonal in
character.*'* The employees of a company which engaged in the re-
duction, canning, processing, handling, loading and storage of fish,
fish oil, and fish meal were likewise deemed to compose a unit appro-
priate for collective bargaining.**** On still other occasions the
N.L.R.B. took jurisdiction of cases involving companies wdiich can
fruit,'" baby foods, '^ olives,'" and pickles.''^
* The Fair Labor Standards Act Section 13 (a) (5), specifically exempts per-
sons engaged in the canning of fish. However, this exemption will not affect the
status of these workers under the Labor-Management Relations Act, for they are
not excluded on the basis of agricultural employment. Instead Congress excluded
them from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act as a class.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS 25
PART-TIME AGRICULTURAL EMPLOYEES
Fre(|iicnll\- workers divide their workini^- lime l)et\\een a,i;"ricul-
tiiral and non-agricultural duties. For example, a railway section
gang employed on a large Hawaiian sugar plantation is rejXM-ted
to spend about two-thirds of its lime repairing and maintaining
railway lines and the other one-third in harvesting tasks.''* A special
question is thus raised about the status under the Labor-Manage-
ment Relations Act of employees who perform part-time agricul-
tural duties. Are these workers excluded completely from coverage
of the act? Or are they covered when engaged in non-agricultural
pursuits, and excluded when engaged in agricultural occupations.-'
The N.L.R.B. has ruled that these workers are to be classed as
non-agricultural workers, and hence covered employees, while they
are emi)loved in commercial or industrial duties, but agricultural,
and hence uncovered employees, while they are engaged in agricul-
tural pursuits. The Board said in February, 1947, that "with respect
to N.L.R.B. practice . . . persons who divide their time betw-een
agricultural and non-agricultural pursuits are 'employees' while per-
forming non-agricultural functions, and during such periods, are
entitled to the benefits of the National Labor Relations Act.""'
Employees who spend about 50 per cent of their time slaughter-
ing meat for the other workers of a plantation and the other half
of their time in agricultural jnirsuits may be represented by a union
certified l)v the Board onlv during the time which the workers de-
vote to butchering.'" In 1Q44 the P^oard held that employees of a
seed processing and distributing company are entitled to legal pro-
tection of their right to collective bargaining during the eight
months or more of each year in which they perform seed processing
operations." On the other hand these workers were denied the bene-
fits of the National Labor Relations Act while they were doing
agricultural work on farms owned b)- the seed i)rocessing company.
A labor union certified to bargain for such employees may be
authorized to represent them only on matters affecting their inter-
ests as plant workers, and not on issues affecting their status as agri-
The policy established by the Administrator of the Fair Labor
Standards Act differs somewhat on this point. A person to l)e
exempt in any one work-week ironi the provisions of the Fair
26 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
Labor Standards Act must spend all of his working time in farm
pursuits.'^ An individual receives full protection under this law
even though he devotes only a slight portion of his working time
to non-agricultural duties. The N.L.R.B. appears to have adopted
a narrower viewpoint and will afford protection to a part-time
agricultural worker, onl}- during the time in which he engaged in
commercial or industrial activities. Moreover, to vote in bargaining
elections these employees must spend at least fifty per cent of their
working time in non-agricultural pursuits.'^ The N.L.R.B. reaf-
firmed its position on the status of the part-time agricultural
worker after the definition of agricultural employment in the Fair
Labor Relations Act was made applicable under the National Labor
Relations Act.®° Apparently the Board feels that there is no need to
alter this particular policy even though it must now interpret agri-
cultural employment in the same manner as the term is construed
for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A variety of tasks are performed in packing and processing
plants owned and operated by cooperative organizations. This
raises the cjuestion: To what extent are workers in these establish-
ments subject to the provisions of the Labor Management Relations
Spokesmen of some farmers' cooperatives have argued that their
employees are agricultural workers even though the employees work
in plants operated and owned by cooperatives and not on farms.
This contention was advanced in the North JJliifticr Heights As-
sociation case, the leading court case dealing with the status of em-
ployees of cooperatives under the National Labor Relations Act.
It was argued that if a single farmer were personally to hire and
direct those doing his own packing and sorting, the work would be
agricultural and his employees would be excluded from the jurisdic-
tion of the N.L.R.B. The argument concluded by saying that the
agricultural character of the work is not altered merely because
the farmer, a member of a cooperative, turns over his product to a
cooperatively owned plant for processing, packing, and marketing.
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS 27
Position of the Courts
The United States Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco
rejected this view. It held that employees of agricultural coopera-
tives were non-ai(ricultural workers and were suhject to the pro-
visions of the National Labor Relations Act. This decision was
later sustained by the Supreme Court of the United States.**^ The
Circuit Court ruled that the operations in processing and packing-
plants owned cooperatively are industrial and not agricultural. On
this point the Court stated that "when the product of the soil leaves
the farmer and enters a factory for processing and marketing it has
entered the status of 'industry'."*" Since employees of these estab-
lishments perform non-agricultural duties, the remedies afforded
by the N.L.R.B. are available to them.
The Circuit Court, furthermore, was convinced that the nature
of the work and the status of the employees is altered by removing
the ])acking and processing operations from the farm to the cooper-
atively owned plant. The Court pointed out that "the factual change
in the manner of accomplishing the same w'ork is exactly what
does change the status of those doing it."*^ Finally it may be pointed
out that the N.L.R.B. will assume jurisdiction over the employees
of an agricultural cooperative even though the organization
processes and packs only the commodities grown by its farmer-
Types of Cooperatives Subject to N.L.R.B.
The North Whitticr case dealt with the processing and packing
of citrus fruits, but the N.L.R.B. has also held that other types of
agricultural cooperatives are subject to its jurisdiction. The em-
ployees of a Vermont dairy, cooperatively owned by 750 member-
farmers, were held to be non-agricultural workers sul)ject to the
National Labor Relations Act.*''
Work performed by employees of dairies is regarded by the
Board as commercial. "When the milk leaves the farm and reaches
the (dairy) for processing and marketing, it becomes engulfed in
the first step of industrial activity, and is then in the practical control
of a large selling organization," the Board stated.*''
28 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
In 1939 the N.L.R.B. held that employees shelling walnuts in
California plants owned by a cooperative growers' association are
not agricultural laborers.^' At the shelling plants employees feed
walnuts into large shell-cracking machines; separate kernels as to
size and color ; clean, pack, and ship the kernels to the association's
warehouses and to customers. Again controlling importance was
attached to the industrial character of the work. The Board declared
that the operations "like those of workers in industrial mass pro-
duction plants are highly specialized. Each employee has one task
to perform which contributes but one step in the total operation of
processing the nut."^* It was also pointed out that the cooperative
is not engaged in farming, but in the marketing of walnuts, and that
the duties of the employees are incidental to the commercial enter-
prise of marketing. Employees of poultry cooperatives are likewise
regarded as not engaged in agriculture, and hence are subject to the
jurisdiction of the Board. *^
Effect of Rider to N.L.R.B. Appropriation Act
In February, 1947, the N.L.R.B. in the Son Fernando Heights
Lemon Association case refused to hold that workers in agricultural
cooperatives are exempt from its jurisdiction because of the limi-
tation attached to its appropriation act.'"' (As noted, this limitation
prohil)its the Board from using its funds in proceedings involving
agricultural laborers as the term is defined in the Fair Labor Stand-
ards Act. ) The employees in the case worked in the packing houses
of a California lemon packing association.
To support its position the N.L.R.B. pointed out that employees
of packing houses operated by cooperative organizations are not
regarded as agricultural workers under terms of the Fair Labor
Standards Act. In March, 1939, the administrator of that act stated
that such workers do not fall within the agricultural emplovment
Employees of a farmers' cooperative . . . are employed not by the
individual farmers who compose its membership or who are its stockholders,
but by the cooperative association itself. Cooperative associations, whether
in the corporate form or not, are distinct, separate entities from the farm-
ers who compose them. The work performed by a farmers' cooperative
association is not work performed by the farmer but for farmers.'""
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS 29
This rulin«^ by the administrator was the basis for the X.L.R.B.
decision that workers in the San Fernando case are not agricultural
workers since "the cooperative association is not a "farmer' nor are
its packing facilities located on a farm." In the light of this inter-
pretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, it may be ex])ected that
workers employed in packing and processing facilities owned and
operated In- cooperative organizations will continue to receive the
benefits and assume the responsibilities of covered employees under
the Labor ^lanagement Relations Act, 1947.
Agricultural workers, previousl}' excluded from the scope of the
National Labor Relations Act. are not covered by the terms of the
Labor Management Relations Act, 1947. Labor organizations com-
posed of these employees are not, therefore, affected by the pro-
tective or restrictive features of the new labor law.
Congress excluded farm laborers from the terms of the two
labor relations acts, but it made no effort until July, 1946, to spell
out the nature and scope of the term "agricultural labor." For ap-
proximately 1 1 years the National Labor Relations Board and the
courts construed the meaning of agricultural employment.
To determine whether a given employee falls within the agricul-
tural exemption, the Board and the courts have given much weight
to the character of work performed l)^■ the worker. If the duties
of an employee are deemed agricultural in nature, he has been ex-
cluded from the coverage of the National La1)or Relations Act. and
presumably will be excluded from coverage under the Labor Man-
agement Relations Act, 1947.
The benefits and responsibilities of the new act apply to workers
who engage in non-agricultural tasks whether or not the workers
are employed on a farm, plantation, or ranch. In addition, a worker
who carries out industrial or commercial tasks does not fall within
the agricultural employment class merely because he handles com-
modities produced on a farm, ranch, or plantation. For example,
employees of commercial packing houses fall within the jurisdic-
tion of the N.L.R.B. while workers performing duties in commer-
cial hatcheries are excluded. In the judgment of the Board and the
30 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
courts employees of hatcheries perform agricidtural ckities while
workers in commercial packing houses carry out commercial and in-
In July, 1946, Congress restricted the Board's power to define
the meaning of "agricultural employment" by making the Fair
Labor Standards Act definition of the term applicable to the
National Labor Relations Act. Congress took similar action in 1947,
and the definition of agricultural employment contained in the Fair
Labor Standards Act still controls the meaning of the term under
the Labor-Management Relations Act. Only a comparatively small
number of employees previously subject to the jurisdiction of the
N.L.R.B. appear to have been removed from its authority because
the Fair Labor Standards Act definition was adopted.
1. Congressional Record, June 19, 1935, v. 79, Part 9, 9720.
2. National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 449, Section 2 (3).
3. Labor-Management Relations Act, 1947 (Taft-Hartley) Public Law 101, 80th
Congress, 1st Session, Title I, Section 2 (3). A slight change in the nature of
the exclusion is embodied in the Labor-Management Relations Act. Whereas
the Wagner Act stated that an "emploj'ee" for purposes of that law did not
include "any individual employed as an agricultural laborer," the Taft-Hartley
law provides that the term "employee" for purposes of this statute does not
embrace "any individual employed in agriculture." At this time the change in
the wording is not expected to alter significantly the interpretations of the
N.L.R.B. or the courts concerning the nature of agricultural employment.
4. Congressional Record, op. cit., p. 9721.
5. North Whittier Heights Citrus Association v. N.L.R.B., 109 F. (2d) 80
(CCA. 9; 1940).
6. 49 Stat. 620.
7. 52 Stat. 1060.
8. National Labor Relations Board Appropriation Act, 1947, Public Law 549, 79th
Congress, 2nd Session.
9. See S. 1550, 76th Congress, 1st Session.
10. Labor Relations Reporter, February 11, 1946, v. 17, p. 772.
11. Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1947, p. 1.
12. Congressional Record, July 12, 1946, v. 92, part 7, p. 8735.
13. Ibid., p. 8741.
14. Ibid., p. 8743.
15. Ibid., p. 8740.
16. Ibid., p. 8738.
17. Ibid., p. 8736.
18. National Labor Relations Board Appropriation Act, 1948, Public Law 165, 80th
Congress, 1st Session.
19. Congressional Record, July 20. 1946, v. 92, part 8, p. 9515.
20. X.L.R.R. V. John W. Campbell, 159 F. (2d) 184 (CCA. 5; 1947).
21. Cougressional Record, op. cit., p. 9514.
22. Ibid., p. 9514.
23. In the Matter of I'ark I-'loral Coiiipany, 19 X. L.R.I]. 403 (1940).
24. John B. Dannitz v. William Pinchbeck, United States District Court. District
of Connecticut No. 1610, July 12, 1946 (66 F. Supp. 667). This decision of the
district court was upheld by the Circuit Court of Appeals at New York.
John Damutz vs. William Pinchbeck, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,
Second Circuit No. 102, Dec. 23, 1946.
25. In the Matter of Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchards Coinpanv, 40
N.L.R.B. 1243 (1942).
26. United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Interpretative
Bulletin, No. 14, August 21, 1939, Section 5 (e).
27. In the Matter of Pepeeko Sugar Company, 59 N.L.R.B. 1537 (1945).
28. In the Matter of L. S. Hnnn Packing Co., 65 N.L.R.B. 635 (1946).
29. In the Matter of Grozcer-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California,
15 N.L.R.B. 533 (1939).
30. In the Matter of Pepeeko Sugar Company, supra, p. 1539.
31. In the Matter of Stark Brothers Nurseries, supra, p. 1251.
32. In the Matter of the Pepeeko Sugar Company, supra.
33. In the Matter of East Maui Irrigation Company, 60 N.L.R.B. 211 (1945).
34. Bowie V. Gonzalez, 117 F. (2d) 11 (CCA. 1; 1941).
35. Calaf v. Gonzalez, 127 F. (2d) 937 (CCA. 1; 1942).
36. In the Matter of Stark Brothers Nurseries, supra.
37. Ibid., p. 1249.
38. See footnote 26, supra.
39. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Opinion Manual of the
General Counsel, p. 54.
40. In the Matter of Lindstrom Hatcherx and Poultry Farm, 49 N.L.R.B. 776
41. Ibid., p. 784.
42. Interpretative Bulletin, No. 14, Section 9.
43. Miller Hatcheries v. Boyer, 131 F. (2d) 283 (CCA. 8; 1942).
44. In the Matter of Park Floral Coinpany, supra.
45. Ibid., p. 414.
46. In the Matter of Knaust Brothers, 36 N.L.R.B. 915 (1941).
47. Ibid., p. 918.
48. Interpretative Bulletin, No. 14, Section 5 (d).
49. See footnote 24, supra.
50. In the Matter of Hind-Clarke Dairy, 58 N.L.R.B. 99 (1944).
51. Opinion Manual of the General Counsel, p. 140.
52. Ibid., p. 258.
53. In the Matter of L. S. flunn Packing Co)iipany, supra.
54. See In the Matter of American Fruit Growers, Inc., 10 N.L.R.B. 316 (1938).
55. In the Matter of J. R. Simplof Produce Company, 55 N.L.R.B. 1228 (1944).
56. In the Matter of Coubourne and Jeivett, 59 N.L.R.B. 176 (1944).
32 I. L. I. R. BULLETIN
57. In the Matter of Arcana-Norton Company, 60 N.L.R.B. 1166 (1945).
58. Opinion Manual of the General Counsel, p. 52.
59. In the Matter of John JC. Campbell, Inc., 66 N.L.R.B. 881 (1946).
60. Ibid., p. 886.
61. See footnote 20, supra.
b2. Idaho Potato Growers, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 144 F. (2d) 295 (CCA. 9; 1944).
Certiorari denied Hi U.S. 769 (1944).
63. In the Matter of Saticoy Lemon Association, 41 N.L.R.B. 243 (1942).
64. N.L.R.B. V. Tovrea Packing Company, 111 F. (2d) 626 (CCA. 9; 1940).
Certiorari denied 311 U.S. 668 (1940).
65. In the Matter of .Szdft & Company, 63 N.L.R.B. 1227 (1945).
66. Opinion Manual of the General Counsel, p. 140.
67. In the Matter of Ladoga Canning Company, 41 N.L.R.B. 51 (1942).
68. In the Matter of Alaska Salmon Industry, Inc., 33 N.L.R.B. 727 (1941).
69. In the Matter of Port Costa Packing Company, 46 N.L.R.B. 931 (1943).
70. In the Matter of California Packing Company, 66 N.L.R.B. 1461 (1946).
71. In the Matter of Gerber Products Company, 59 N.L.R.B. 1362 (1945).
72. In the Matter of Pacific Olive Company, 46 N.L.R.B. 1 (1942).
73. In the Matter of Goldsmith Pickle Company, 23 N.L.R.B. 70 (1940).
74. In the Matter of Pepeeko Sugar Company, supra.
75. In the Matter of .'^an Fernando Heights Lemon Association, 72 N.L.R.B. 372
76. In the Matter of Pepeeko Sugar Company, supra, p. 1540.
77. In the Matter of Nezvday Seeds, Inc., 55 N.L.R.B. 1049 (1944).
78. Interpretative Bulletin, No. 14, Section 2.
79. In the Matter of Alaui Pineapple Company, 60 N.L.R.B. 409 (1945).
80. See footnote 75, supra.
81. 310 U.S. 632 (1940).
82. North Jl'hitfier 11 eights Citrus Association v. N.L.R.B., supra, p. 78.
83. Ibid., p. 80.
84. See N.L.R.B. v. Edinburg Citrus Association, 147 F. (2d) 353 (CCA. 5;
85. In the Matter of Alilton Co-operative Dairy Corporation, 68 N.L.R.B. 535
86. Ibid., p. 537.
87. In the Matter of California Walnut Groivcrs Associaiio7is, 18 N.L.R.B. 493
88. Ibid., p. 500.
89. In the Matter of Rockingham Poultry Cooperative, 59 N.L.R.B. 486 (1944).
90. In the Matter of San Fernando Heights Lenion Association, supra.
91. Interpretative Bulletin, No. 10, dated March 31, 1939, see also Redlands Foot-
hills Groves V. .lacobs, 30 Fed. Supp. 995 U.S.D.C Calif.; 1940. In this case
the district court held that employees of a fruit packing cooperative were
covered bv the Fair Labor Standards Act.